American gymnastics star Simone Biles on Tuesday pulled out of an Olympic competition the United States had been widely favored to win.
As a result, Russia won the women’s team gymnastics event on Tuesday. The United States finished second for the silver medal, while Britain won the bronze medal.
The United States had been seeking its third straight gold in the woman’s team event. Team USA last won a silver medal in the 2008 games, when China took the gold.
“Simone has withdrawn from the team final competition due to a medical issue,” USA Gymnastics said in a statement. “She will be assessed daily to determine medical clearance for future competitions.”
Prior to that announcement, however, NBC’s Monica Alba tweeted that Biles had not been injured and was having what her coach termed “a mental issue.”
Simone Biles back in warmup gear, cheering on her teammates after she told them she pulled out of the team competition final.
“It is not injury related” and apparently her coach said “it’s a mental issue that Simone is having,” per NBC commentators just now. #TokyoOlympics pic.twitter.com/WdBgVBnF5m
— Monica Alba (@albamonica) July 27, 2021
Biles had left the competition area after finishing her vault. She took off her bar grips, hugged her teammates and donned a jacket and sweatpants.
The 24-year-old has struggled in the Tokyo Games to repeat the level she achieved in the 2016 Olympics, when she won five gold medals.
“Simone, on the first event of the first rotation of the team competition … she bailed out of her vault,” CNN sports analyst Christine Brennan said.
It was unclear Tuesday if she would compete further in upcoming individual events.
Despite being one of the most beloved American athletes, Biles this year lashed out at those she called “haters” and started wearing a goat on her leotard, a symbol for her standing as the “Greatest of All Time.”
“I just hope that kids growing up watching this don’t or aren’t ashamed of being good at whatever they do. And that’s my problem: when people kind of harp on other people that are good at something. And it’s like, everybody can say you’re good, but once you acknowledge it, it’s not cool anymore. And I want kids to learn that, yes, it’s OK to acknowledge that you’re good or even great at something,” she said in an interview with Marie Clare.
In a Monday post on Instagram, Biles hinted that all was not well.
“I truly do feel like I have the weight of the world on my shoulders at times. I know I brush it off and make it seem like pressure doesn’t affect me but damn sometimes it’s hard hahaha! The olympics is no joke!” she wrote.
“I think that Simone is the biggest story going into the Olympics, so this is just, it’s really, really devastating,” former Team USA gymnast Aly Raisman said, according to NBC News.
“But I think it’s also just really important to think about how much pressure has been on her, and there’s only so much that someone can take. You know, she’s human, and I think sometimes people forget that. And Simone, just like everyone else, is doing the best that she can,” she said.